Young Panthers growing into new roles


Polytech’s Montrell Jones gets a handoff from quarterback Vincent Tascione during last season. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

WOODSIDE — There’s nothing Kevin Smith can do to bring back the 19 seniors he graduated from last year’s Polytech High football team.

But the Panthers’ coach does hope that some of the confidence those seniors helped instill in their younger teammates still remains.

After going 6-4 last year — the program’s first winning season since 2006 — Smith said he feels like his players expect to win now.

“They walk around a lot different,” he said. “Like when we didn’t scrimmage very well a couple times, you saw the disappointment there. They didn’t except it.

“That’s good to see. Maybe we’re trying to change the culture a little bit — change the mindset at Polytech.”

The reality, however, is that if the Panthers are going to keep winning this fall, they’re going to have to do it with a lot of inexperienced players. Polytech opens the season by hosting A.I. DuPont at 7 p.m. on Friday.

Of the six players who earned All-Henlopen Conference Northern Division honors last year, only second-team all-North quarterback Vincent Tascione (Sr., 6-3, 210) is back.

The only other top returning players are RB/CB-Donell Hooker (Sr., 5-6), RB/WR/S-Donald Rawley (Jr., 5-9, 165), RB/LB-Montrell Jones (Jr., 5-10, 190) and OT/DT-Matthew Chadwick (Sr., 6-0, 245).

Having a veteran QB is good place to start, of course, for Polytech. But Tascione will also be working with some new receivers this season.

“I told him when camp first started, I said, ‘It’s a different role for you this year,’” said Smith. “’You don’t have Tucker Reed, Doug Reed, A.J. Foster, the top seven linemen …’ I said, ‘It’s your turn now to be thrust into that role.’”

The Panthers actually have 13 seniors on this year’s roster. It’s just that many of them haven’t played major roles yet in their careers.

Smith said he’s looking forward to watching this team develop.

Among the newcomers expected to contribute this season are WR/LB-Caleb Tascione (Jr., 6-3, 185), WR/S-Dylan Bailey (Sr., 5-11, 150), WR/CB-Collin Jaksch (So., 5-10, 150), WR/LB-Tanner Elliott (Jr., 5-11, 175), WR/S-Trent Jaksch (So., 5-10, 150), RB/CB-Keshon Weems (Sr., 6-1, 160), RB/B-Brian Scott-Hill (So., 5-7, 185), OT/DT-Brandon Williams (So., 6-1, 225), C/LB-Jayce-Tyler Harmon (Fr., 5-8, 195), OG/NG-Aron Johnson (So., 5-8, 230), OG/DT-Dylan Craighton (Jr., 5-9, 225,), OT/DT-Alex Shown (So., 6-4, 210), OG/NG-James-Michael Porter (Sr., 5-7, 220), OT/DT-Zechariah Waters (Sr., 6-4, 250), C/NG-Dylan Stubbs (Jr., 6-2, 270) and OG/DT-Brent Smith (Jr., 6-1, 280).

A year ago, probably not many people expected Polytech to beat Caesar Rodney or finish .500 (3-3) in the Henlopen North, both for the first time in program history. Smith wants to see what this season’s team can accomplish.

“The energy and excitement is there, as well as the hunger to learn for these kids that are going to be thrust into new roles this year,” he said. “We’ve got some building to do.

“Hopefully, we continue to get better. As long you get better and the kids start learning and their fundamentals get better, the wins will come.

“It’ll be fun to see. In the nine or 10 years I’ve been a head coach, I’ve never had this young of a team. It’s different but it’s good because of their excitement and their energy level at practice every day.”

 

Polytech
2018 Schedule
SEPTEMBER
7-A.I. DUPONT 7 p.m.
14-INDIAN RIVER 7 p.m.
21-At Milford 7 p.m.
28-CAESAR RODNEY* 7 p.m.
OCTOBER
5-CAPE HENLOPEN* 7 p.m.
13-At Laurel 1 p.m.
19-SUSSEX CENTRAL* (HC) 7 p.m.
26-DOVER* 7 p.m.
NOVEMBER
2-At Sussex Tech* 7 p.m.
9-At Smyrna* 7 p.m.
* Henlopen North games

2017 Results
3-3 Henlopen North, 6-4 overall
L-A.I. duPont 21-28
W-Indian River 39-21
W-Milford 16-7
W-Caesar Rodney 7-6
W-Cape Henlopen 13-10
W-Laurel 21-7
L-Sussex Central 6-29
L-Dover 7-42
W-Sussex Tech 20-14
L-Smyrna 0-46

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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